Day care director accused of 'cruel and unusual' punishment reinstated

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by Dillon Collier / KENS 5

Bio | Email | Follow: @dilloncollier

kens5.com

Posted on May 14, 2013 at 4:33 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 14 at 5:36 PM

SAN ANTONIO -- A day care director is back on the job, with state-imposed restrictions, after being placed on administrative leave twice since October 2012.

Ann Marie Cardenas was placed on leave in late October while the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services investigated claims she forced a 2-year-old girl to bite a 2-year-old boy and then forced the boy to bite himself.

"I should be around kids. I've been a director for 10 years," Cardenas told KENS 5 on Tuesday morning. "Never have I been accused of anything this serious. In my opinion, these parents are just out to get me."

According to DFPS documents, Cardenas was reinstated to her position in late November after investigators said the incident did not rise to the levels of abuse necessary to revoke her child care license.

The state cited Cardenas for demonstrating "cruel and unusual" punishment during the incident, and handed down six violations against the day care.

Cardenas denied grabbing the boy's neck and forcing his head down, despite the state including that as a violation against her.

"That type of behavior is just not something that I want my daughter to experience. My daughter is not there to help the teachers punish other kids," said Jillian Damian, whose daughter was involved in the incident.

Damian and the boy's mother have hired attorney Matthew S. Norris, who recently filed a civil lawsuit against Kids Galore in 131st District Court.

Norris said attempts to obtain a copy of video of the incident have been unsuccessful.

State investigators were told by workers at Kids Galore that the footage has been erased. Instead, investigators were given a cell phone recording of the incident from another caregiver.

Cardenas was again placed on leave in late March after the state investigated a claim she left a child in a room unsupervised.

The state cleared Cardenas of abuse, allowing her to return to work April 24, but did impose limitations.

According to a DFPS spokeswoman, Cardenas is allowed to handle the day-to-day operations of the daycare, including paperwork and billing, but is forbidden to be around children without the presence of another caregiver.

Calls to the day care owners were not returned.

Richard Kasson, a lawyer hired by the day care after the lawsuit was filed, declined to comment pending the outcome of the litigation.
 

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